Monthly Archives: September 2015

  • -

Sports Injuries to The Back in Young Athletes

Tags : 

“Oh, my back!” isn’t really a phrase we expect coming out of a teen or preteen’s mouth. But actually, young athletes are prone to several sports injuries affecting the spine. Most can be treated with rest, but it’s important to pay attention to any signs and symptoms of potential back injury. These can have serious repercussions down the line, so it’s crucial to make sure the source of back pain or stiffness is known and strong preventative measures are applied.

Below, some of the most common kinds of back injuries experienced by young athletes.

Strains and Sprains

Strains and sprains can happen anywhere in the body, including in the muscles and ligaments of the back. These are by far the most common source of back pain in young athletes, and can be caused by overuse, improper body mechanics, poor technique, trauma, and lack of appropriate conditioning or stretching. Usually in these cases, an athlete will only experience the pain when moving, and it will be relieved when they rest. Strains and sprains should be treated first with rest and anti-inflammatory pain medication. Ice packs or heat packs applied to the affected area may also be helpful. Once the athlete has recovered, the return to exercise should be slow and cautious. A sports medicine professional or physical therapist can test to see if there’s an issue with body mechanics or technique and prescribe corrective exercises accordingly.

Spondylolysis and Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolysis is a stretch fracture in the vertebrae. It’s most often found in the fifth lumbar vertebra in the lower back. Spondylolisthesis occurs when the fracture weakens the bone to the point where it begins to shift out of position. Gymnasts and other athletes who do a lot of twisting are particularly vulnerable. Athletes suffering from these conditions usually complain of pain that gets more intense when they attempt to arch their back. X-rays and other imaging studies are used to confirm the diagnosis. Rest, medication, ice, and targeted rehabilitative exercises are the normal course of action, though severe cases of spondylolisthesis may require surgery to correct. Patients with spondylolisthesis should be monitored for slippage of the affected vertebrae regularly as they continue to grow. If the vertebrae slips too far out of place, it may be necessary to reconsider or switch sports.

Nerve Pinch Injuries

Trauma, particularly in contact or collision sports, is a common cause of nerve pinch injuries. These occur when the nerves off the spinal cord in the neck are pinched or stretched. These injuries, sometimes referred to as “stingers” result in pain, weakness, and “electectrical” or other strange sensations in the neck, shoulders, and arms. Usually, these injuries resolve themselves quickly but are very likely to recur–and potentially worsen. Athletes who’ve experienced these injuries should seek medical attention to prevent the injury from getting worse. Cervical collars and corrective exercises are among some of the treatments that may be prescribed.

Juvenile Kyphosis

Juvenile kyphosis causes pain in the mid-back. Young athletes suffering this condition display a back deformity caused by the wedging of three or more vertebrae. This wedging of consecutive vertebrae results in a rounded curve of the mid-back. Exercises and stretches can help with the pain, but can’t correct the curve. Back bracing or even surgery may be necessary in serious cases. If a young athlete is experiencing mid-back pain and/or their spine seems to be taking on a dome-like shape, it’s important to see a professional for a diagnosis and help managing the condition.

Although this list includes some of the most common causes of back pain sports injuries  and conditions in young athletes, it’s by no means exhaustive. Concerned about your back health? Call us to request an appointment – 732.720.2569.


  • -

Osteoporosis and Back Pain

Tags : 

If you’re over 60 and experience sharp back pain when moving, there’s a good chance a compression fracture caused by osteoporosis could be to blame. If you haven’t, are under 60, and don’t want to experience this pain, read on anyway–because this is one of those many situations where prevention is the best medicine.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis means your body produces too little bone mass or loses too much, resulting in brittle bones that are extremely vulnerable to injury. Research suggests that as many as one in two women and one in four men over the age of fifty will break a bone due to osteoporosis.

Compression Fractures

Vertebral compression fractures are broken vertebrae. They are most commonly caused by osteoporosis, though other causes include certain cancers and trauma. In some cases, prednisone, a steroid-based medication that can soften bone, may also be to blame.

Compression fracture pain is often described as feeling like a painful muscle spasm. The pain is experienced when moving, and subsides when the patient is still.

Prevention

No matter what your age, there are ways you can minimize your risk for osteoporosis.

Nutrition: Incorporate vitamin D and calcium rich foods into your diet.

Exercise: Exercise regularly and safely–certain activities, like weight lifting, can be detrimental or put you at risk for injury if done incorrectly.

Testing: If you’re over 50, consider getting a bone density test. Consult this guide for details.

Supplements & Medications: Consult a physician and/or professional nutritionist to see if calcium or vitamin D supplements could be right for you. For some patients, bone-bulking bisphosphonate medication may also be helpful.

Treatment

Typically, the first step is to treat the pain caused by compression fractures, usually with medication, followed by bed rest. Once the patient has some relief, they may be prescribed physical therapy or fitted with a brace.

If these more conservative options don’t work, surgery may be suggested. Some of the surgeries used to treat compression fractures include  kyphoplasty, vertebroplasty, and spinal fusion.

Worried you may be suffering from compression fractures? Request an appointment with our spine care professionals.


Need a Spine Care Specialist?